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Prostate Cancer Spurs Rocky Mount Man To Start Special Mission

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ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Prostate cancer is a global health problem, but the highest incidence and death rate is found in black men in eastern North Carolina. Some people hope to make a change in that statistic.

The message may be spiritual, but the Rev. Thomas Walker also helps his Rocky Mount congregation deal with the physical.

"We deal with a lot of people and we are to be concerned about the whole man," he said.

Nine years ago, Walker learned he had prostate cancer. He wrote about his treatment and survival. The book sparked a mission to reach people with a prostate health message through television, brochures and even posters in public bathrooms.

"We're dealing with an epidemic and we have to treat it as such," he said.

The epidemic is rolling through eastern North Carolina, catching most victims unaware.

One of the challenges in eastern North Carolina about spreading the message of prostate health is that people are spread out. There is limited access to medical care and health education.

Walker helped Marvin Roundtree through his prostate cancer treatment and recovery. The two men helped start a prostate cancer Shepherds group to do the same for others. They shepherd men through the experience after diagnosis and urge others to catch it early when it is most treatable.

"That cancer is not such a dirty word. Go ahead and have yourself checked," Roundtree said. "There is a possibility of you being cured. You don't have to die from prostate cancer."

Doctors recommend most men begin annual prostate exams by age 50. Black men should begin by age 40.


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